Briscoe, Bell gear up for weekend with ALMS, then IndyCar

1 Comment

Although IndyCar isn’t racing this weekend, some of the drivers who are entered for this year’s Indianapolis 500 are. Practice for the race begins on Saturday.

Ryan Briscoe and Townsend Bell will race in the American Le Mans Series event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Saturday.

Briscoe already has a class win (Sebring 12 Hours) and pole (Long Beach) in two starts for Level 5 Motorsports, where he will compete in the full season and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Briscoe rejoins the Chip Ganassi Racing squad for Indianapolis for the first time since 2005, in the No. 8 NTT Data Honda.

Also Thursday, Discovery Channel announced a MythBusters IndyCar special will air Wednesday, May 22, at 9 p.m. ET, featuring Briscoe at IMS.

Bell recaps his crazy last few weeks and the two most recent IndyCar races here, but his focus this weekend is on his GT class Ferrari F458 Italia for the West/Alex Job Racing/Boardwalk Ferrari team. Bell paced his class in the ALMS official test session Thursday, at a time of 1:23.802 in the Yokohama-shod No. 23 Ferrari around the 2.238-mile road course (pictured right, ALMS Photo).

“This is our first chance to try some things that I hadn’t been able to try so far,” Bell said. “The Ferrari is just a fantastic car out of the box, and it’s the third year of the 458. Development-wise, the guys have a really nice car and it’s a matter of adapting our brake, damper and tire partners to this platform, which we know is a winning one.”

Briscoe and Bell are expected to leave immediately after the race Saturday night to catch flights to Indianapolis, where their on-track preparations for the 500 will begin in earnest.

Katherine Legge, who raced in IndyCar in 2012, is also competing in Monterey this weekend, aboard the revolutionary DeltaWing prototype.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski